Guitar Hero: Isn’t it Just Like Playing Guitar?

 All I hear these days is Guitar Hero this and Guitar Hero that. Version 1, version 3…….and all the tweets about it. It seems you can’t get away from it. Guitar Hero has even made its way into some “serious” guitar forums. The big question from non-guitar players is “Isn’t it just like playing guitar”? or “It’s close, right”? Here is my favorite “Playing Guitar Hero will help me if I decide to take up guitar lessons down the road”? Is this all really true?

Well, I’m here to tell you that being a guitar player of 35 years and having tried Guitar Hero a handful of times I can confidently say “Guitar Hero is nothing like playing guitar”! Can I get a witness?? Yes, you hold it sort of like a guitar. Yes, it looks almost like a guitar. No, it does not generate it’s own unique tone and let you express your inner emotions through music. Ah-ha!

Guitar Hero is a video game that is fun and challenging. A guitar is a musical instrument with exquisite tones, moods and stories lurking inside that the player can coax out of it. If you ever listen to Carlos Santana then you know what I’m talking about. Now playing the guitar and playing Guitar Hero can conjur up some similar emotions such as excitement, frustration and joy but that may be all they have in common. The techniques are completely different. The Guitar Hero technique is imho about 1/100th that of guitar technique. There are so many things going on when you play the guitar. Even a simple guitar like a Fender Esquire or a Gibson Les Paul Jr. There are knobs, palm muting, fingerpicking, tapping, etc and we didn’t even get to the pedals or the amps yet! Not to mention the different genres of music you can play on the guitar. If you sit down and really think about all the aspects of playing the guitar it can be staggering. Another point to throw into the mix is that each time you pick up your guitar the human element comes into effect and can change your playing from day to day….or even hour to hour. Minute to minute anyone??

So in the end Guitar Hero is a game. The guitar is a musical instrument. Both can be fun, exciting, frustrating at times and amusing but let’s face it. One you play with your hands. The other you play with your heart. Guess which is which?




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